Canada: Ontario Government Proposes Changes To Lobbying Rules

On July 25, 2012, the Ontario government announced its proposal to amend and update the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998 (Ontario) (the Act),which governs the lobbying of provincial public office holders in Ontario.

The existing Act has undergone few amendments since it first came into force in 1998. It outlines certain requirements for both in-house and consultant lobbyists who communicate with public office holders in the provincial government. Lobbyists are required to register with the Integrity Commissioner's lobbyist registry and disclose their lobbying activities. In particular, the Act requires lobbyists to disclose any communications with public office holders and the subject matter of their communications. In addition, lobbyists are required to disclose the organizations for which they are working and whether or not those organizations receive public funding.

The exact details of the proposal will not be available until the changes are introduced in the Legislature. For now, the government has simply announced its intention to introduce such changes. The proposals are intended to increase transparency and accountability surrounding lobbyists' activities, prevent potential conflicts of interest, and increase disclosure with respect to government spending. If passed into law, it is expected that the following amendments will be made to the Act:

  • The Integrity Commissioner (who is responsible for the administration of the Act and serves concurrently as the Lobbyist Registrar of Ontario) will be given greater enforcement and investigative powers to prohibit certain individuals from lobbying, compel individuals to testify and obtain key documents from lobbyists;

  • The Integrity Commissioner will be given the power to establish a Code of Conduct for lobbyists;

  • Lobbyists will be prevented from accepting additional contingency fees for preferred outcomes;

  • Lobbyists will be forced to identify the specific Member of Provincial Parliament and Ministers' offices they lobby;

  • A "contracting prohibition" will be put in place, that is, lobbyists will be restricted from lobbying on a subject matter if they have a contract to give paid advice to a public office holder on the same subject matter;

  • For-profit and not-for-profit organizations will be combined under the same category of "in-house lobbyists"; and

  • The maximum fine for non-compliance with the rules will be increased from C$25,000 to C$100,000. In addition, lobbyists who do not adhere to the rules may be banned from working in their capacity as lobbyists for up to two years.

Many of these proposed amendments mirror recommendations that the Integrity Commissioner made in her May 2012 review of the existing legislation. The Integrity Commissioner's recommendations are also consistent with federal recommendations released earlier in May 2012 by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in a report entitled Statutory Review of the Lobbying Act: Its First Five Years. (No federal legislation has yet been announced to introduce these recommendations).

The changes represent an effort to modernize Ontario's lobbying legislation by introducing measures and practices that are already in effect in other Canadian jurisdictions. Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador commissioners presently all have the power to ban individuals from lobbying if they do not adhere to the respective lobbying rules. In British Columbia and Alberta, lobbyists are already subject to a contracting prohibition that restricts them from providing paid advice to a ministry and lobbying on the same subject matter.

The proposed change that will likely have the greatest effect on day-to-day lobbying activity is the requirement for lobbyists (including in-house lobbyists) to identify the specific Member of Provincial Parliament and Ministers' offices they lobby. It is unclear whether this requirement will follow the federal "designated public office holder" requirement, which provides that all meetings must be documented and disclosed to the Registrar in a communications report filed by the 15th day of the following month.

The proposal for a "code of conduct" for lobbyists could also have far-reaching implications, particularly if the Code of Conduct is drafted and interpreted as broadly as the federal Code of Conduct has been with respect to conflicts of interest.

Together with the new rules, the Ontario government will also propose changes to the Cabinet Ministers' and Opposition Leaders' Expenses Review and Accountability Act, 2002 (Ontario) to require opposition leaders and their staff to make public their expenses. This reporting obligation is only currently required for cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants and their staff, and may affect the palatability of these proposals in a minority Legislature.

The proposed amendments will be tabled this fall by the Ministry of Government Services, when the Ontario Legislature resumes its regular fall schedule. Following second reading of the legislation, the proposed changes will be sent to a Standing Committee of the Legislature for legislative review and stakeholder input. Because of the minority Legislature, support from opposition parties could affect timing and the likelihood of these changes passing into law.

In addition to changes at the provincial level, there are recent developments in lobbying laws at the municipal level. As of September 1, 2012, the City of Ottawa's new Lobbyist Registry By-Law came into effect. Under the city's new regime, where lobbying has taken place, individuals are required to register their lobbying activity within 15 days. This must include where and when lobbying took place, the client, the subject matter, the person(s) lobbied, and the method of communication used. There is no minimum hour threshold for the lobbying requirement to be triggered. The by-law is only applicable to individuals representing businesses or financial interests.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
27 Oct 2016, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

Please join members of the Blakes Commercial Real Estate group as they discuss five key provisions of a commercial real estate purchase agreement that are often the subject of much negotiation but are sometimes misunderstood.

1 Nov 2016, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

What is the emotional culture of your organization?

Every organization and workplace has an emotional culture that can have an impact on everything from employee performance to customer or client satisfaction.

3 Nov 2016, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

Join leading lawyers from the Blakes Pensions, Benefits & Executive Compensation group as they discuss recent updates and legal developments in pension and employee benefits law as well as strategies to identify and minimize common risks.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.